This song basically spells it out in the chorus: "Every time I try to walk away, something makes me turn around and stay, and I can't tell you why." It's about a relationship on the rocks - the couple's arguing intensifies almost to the point of them breaking up one night. The song has no real conclusion and leaves the listener with an intentional melancholy. This is because the couple in the song are neither reconciled or torn apart. The song fades out on this point of uncertainty.
Suggestion credit: Josh - Magnolia, AR
Eagles bass player Timothy B. Schmit, who replaced Randy Meisner in 1977, sang lead and was the primary songwriter. When we spoke with Schmit in 2011, he explained: "It was co-written by me and Don (Henley) and Glenn (Frey). I did bring a portion of that song, unfinished, to them back then, because I was new in the band and they wanted to introduce me on a good note, no pun intended. And I had this little piece of a tune that they really liked. It was loosely based on my own experiences."
Glenn Frey played lead guitar on this song, which was rare at the time since Don Felder or Joe Walsh usually played lead, relegating Frey to rhythm.
In an interview with Bob Costas, Frey said that this and "One Of These Nights" were the two Eagles songs he helped write that he would put into a time capsule to represent the Eagles best work.
This was the first song the Eagles completed for The Long Run. They finished the song in March 1978, but the album took about 19 months to complete and wasn't released until September 1979. It was the Eagles last studio album until they re-formed in 1994.
Jimmy Buffett sang background on this track and David Sanborn played saxophone. Timothy B. Schmit is the one who came up with the term "Parrotheads" to describe Jimmy Buffett's fans.
The song was covered by The Swon Brothers on NBC's The Voice in 2013. Their version landed at #99 on the Hot 100 after they sung it in the final.
R&B girl group Brownstone's smooth interpretation of this song peaked at #54 on the Hot 100 in 1995.
Shelagh from Western Australia Love. Timothy's smooth sexy voice apparently this is the only song he sings on his own I can imagine lying on a white sandy beach listening to the ocean with I can tell you why playing on a cd lying in the one I love arms holding me tight and keep hitting the play button lol. Sensual loving on a hot summers night couldn't get much better yeah
Gregory from St LouisDon't forget Gerald Alston, the former lead singer for the Manhattans soulful remake of this Eagles classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmtuL386nnY
Djbillyd from BamaI'm an Eagles fan for sure. I love this piece. I could've written it every week for all of my life. It's just been one heartbreak after another. And like the song says, I can't tell you why. I guess I'm just a magnet for the wrong girl.
Markantney from BiloxeIt's not only my fav Eagles song; it's an alltime fav period. A bunch of their other hits (Henley singing lead) come in second to it.
And for years I didn't know (or maybe constantly forget?) it was an Eagles song because Frey or Henley didn't sing lead. It has a Boz Scaggs vibe to it (to me); which he too is an alltime Fav.
Jeff from Kingston, TnGreat song. If I was picking one from the Eagles greatest this would be it. Also Vince Gill does a great cover of this as well.
Ken from Louisville, KyIn the History Of The Eagles, Schmit said that during the recording of the song, Henley said to him "This is your hit". Schmit said that Henley saying that made him feel like a genuine member of the band.
Ken from Louisville, KyIt would make sense for Don Felder to play the guitar solo in live shows since both Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh have keyboard parts in this song. But on the record, Frey could very well have overdubbed the guitar solo.
David from Hazlet, NjA very melancholy song and you can tell the band was in decline from the huge run it had from 1971-1976. Just watch the video of the band members in the studio playing the song, you can see and feel the tension---this is a studio where you can see distrust, bitterness, resentment between the band members. A good job by Timothy B. Schmidt on the vocals and it seems looking back, he was the only "normal" member of the band not involved in all the drama that engulfed the other members.
Glen from Cronulla, AustraliaDon Felder was the real maestro of the Hotel California period,,,,,,,,,,,,,what a guitarist !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mike from Southampton, BermudaHow about instead of all the guessing, we just hear it directly from Don Felder on his own website?
QUOTE: Cody, among others, would like to know whether or not Don actually played the solo on the Eagles’ original recording of “I Can’t Tell You Why.”
Glenn Frey played the original solo on the record. I played it live for all the shows, on the Eagles Live album, and on the Hell Freezes Over CD and DVD.
David from Taylorsville, UtGlenn Frey said in an interview that it was him that not only played the guitar solo, but basically made it up on the spot; he also played keyboards on the song, but he couldn't show both on the video. It was NOT Don Felder, although he often does it now live.
David from Taylorsville, UtFor the last time, Glenn Frey did play lead guitar and the amazing guitar solo at the end, not, and I repeat, not Don Felder! Just because the video shows it that way means nothing; Glenn did both the keyboards for the song as well as being one of the writers - he can't do two things at once on the video! Glenn also composed the guitar solo which was somewhat impromptu at the recording session. He has said he played the guitar in interviews and is listed on the album credits as such.
Mayank from Ranchi, IndiaGreat song, I have freaked out more on this song than on any other song during my childhood. Amazing music, great vocals and the guitar/ music towards the ending is just awesome. The best stress-reliever there is.
Brian from Boston, MaChristine from Chicago thanks Iam abig fan of the Eagles ,This song and Jimmy Buffett but I had no idea he sang backup on this.This is why this site is so good very informative.I love the guitar solo in this song
Lisa from Eveleth, Mnthis is my 3rd favorite song in the world. never mind what the first two are. i looovvve this song.
Ric from Asheville, Tnno you are wrong...who played lead on i cant tell you why is don felder....watch the studio version back in 79...glenn frye is sitting playing keyboards
Mayank from Ranchi, IndiaWell, at least in the 1979 studio recording video as well as in the 1994 Hell Freezes Over live version, it is Don Felder who plays the lead guiar and not Glenn Frey. Glenn is on the keyboards.
Rae from Abilene, Txi love the way Timothy sings . love u tim
Paul from Denver, CoI saw Timothy B. Schmidt do this song live when he was playing bass for Jimmy Buffet and the Correl Refers. Jimmy left the stage and let the bandmember do some of thier own works.
Danny from Your Town, IaAccording to Don Felder in his book "Heaven & Hell" the first usable song on the Long Run album was "I Can't Tell You Why", which Tim brought to the studio and Felder told him it was a killer song. He stated Glen and Don were not talking at the time, so he told Tim to keep going over it while he could play some real sensual lead on it. This isn't the first time Frey or Henley have lied about credits. All through the history of the Eagles the main writer of each song was first listed on track credits. Felder was listed as lead writer on "Hotel California" until the "Hell Freezes Over" tour when his name was pushed to the back of the credit listing on "Hotel California".
Oldpink from New Castle, InQuickly, the lead guitar most definitely IS played by Glenn Frey on this song, and he does it beautifully, even if it is probably not a particularly tough one to execute. Listening to this, I wonder why Schmidt did not sing any of their other songs, as he did a beautiful kind of Smokey Robinson thing. Beautiful song, and kind of a sequel to "Best Of My Love."
Bob from Moscow, United StatesYes, i really love hearing this song, it is just like the best sound to my ears. I love the base. Keep it up guys. -mil of philippines-
Meredith from Wauwatosa, WiI love this song! The Eagles are such a great band! I love Timothy's voice on this song!
Bob from Roseville, CoTim was in the group The New Breed from Sacramento Ca, Had a hit song around 66 called Green Eyed Woman. Later went to Poco.
Rob from Ashland, OhLook at the notes from the album - Glenn Frey did in fact play the lead. The "Video" was just that- a music video that looks like it is being played live. Because Glenn also played keybords on the song (in the studio) they had to make Don look like he was doing somthing for the "Video". Plus if you listen to the solos they are not Don or Joe's style at all.
Paul from Marysville, WaFelder play the guitar solos? Hmmm, perhaps. But the LP liner notes credit Frey.
Either way, great solos. Not heavy on technique, but excellent composition and feel.
Mike from Hueytown , AlYep Don Felder is even seen playing lead during a video recording of them performing this song in a studio
Mayank from Ranchi, IndiaYes, the solo was played by Don Felder. And I love the Eagles. I think they are the greatest band of all time and this is one of their best songs right up there with Hotel California and the others.
Alan from Singapore, SingaporeThe group Brownstone did a cover of this song
Alan from Singapore, SingaporeThe guitar solo was played by Don Felder, not Glenn Frey
Dan from Winthrop, MaJimmy Buffet sings background vocals on "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks"." David Sanborn plays saxaphone on "The Sad Cafe".